New year brings resolutions and new fitness trends at MAC

It's January and that means new year's resolutions to get fit. At the Maryland Athletic Club in Timonium, like hundreds of other gyms across Baltimore County, membership has spiked this month.

"It never fails," said Jeff Urban, MAC's director of personal training and fitness, referring to the surge in membership. "I think, it can't happen like that again — and it does."

Urban said January and the first quarter is typically the busiest quarter of the year, followed by a jump in May to June, or "bathing suit season," when people want to get in shape for summer.

Urban said big right now is "functional training" designed to work many muscle groups in one movement, incorporating balance, strength and cardiovascular components. Instead of using machines or pressing weights, exercises include pushing a sled filled with weights across a basketball court, sledgehammering tires or working out on an "adult playground" or jungle gym, Urban said.

Group classes are seeing a surge of MAC members taking part in the Tabata — or four-minute interval training — approach to classes, said Barb Yingling, MAC's director of group exercises. Intervals are made up of spurts of movements for 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest.

"It's the best way to burn fat and calories throughout the day," Yingling said, adding that MAC's Extreme Intervals class is popular, combining step choreography, weight training and movements with balls and bands.

Yingling also named High Intensity Interval Training and Bokwa, in which participants draw letters and numbers with their feet while performing a cardio workout routine to music, as other highly attended classes.

Interval training owes its popularity to the diversity of exercises and quicker results, said Yingling.

"We will add different equipment and routines so you're not doing the same thing over and over," she said.

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